How to Apply Hair Products the Right Way

Woman combing her hair
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Behind almost every great hairstyle is a great hair product (or two). But if you don't apply hair products correctly, you won't be getting the best results.

Here we'll share our favorite hair product tips and teach you how to apply them. Doing so can add volume to flat hair, define curls, and keep strands shiny, healthy, and purposeful.

1. Watch How Much You Apply

One of the biggest complaints stylists get regarding hair products is that it weighs hair down. A little can go a long way. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Consider your hair length. Super short hairstyles need very little product.
  2. Think of amounts in terms of coin size: a dime-size amount of pomade, mousse or gel should work on short hair, a nickel-sized amount is good for shoulder-length and longer hairstyles can use a quarter size.
  3. If curling long hair, spritz each section before you use a curling iron to help keep the curl.

2. Apply to Damp Hair, Not Wet Hair

It's best to towel-dry—or air-dry—hair as much as possible before applying styling product or you'll lose some of it in the drying process. If you have curly hair, towel dry by squeezing ringlets in the towel (and not a t-shirt). This keeps them from frizzing up.

3. Spray First, Then Comb

When using a product that comes in a spray bottle, one way to apply it is to saturate hair with the product and then comb the product through. This ensures all strands get coated instead of the product sitting atop a few strands of hair. When spritzing hair with product, be careful to only apply one spritz per section. If you add too much product it will stiffen and dry out hair.

4. Spray at the Crown and Roots

One common mistake is to spray or apply the product on top of the hair strands. This will end up weighing hair down. Instead, spray or apply the product to the crown and roots. Lift up hair or turn sideways to really get in there. This works especially well for adding body to fine hair.

5. Massage the Product into Your Hair

Need extra staying power? Some stylists swear by massaging a spray product, foam, or gel into the strands. This ensures the hair really gets coated. While you're at it, try giving your scalp some love and feel the tension just melt away.

6. How to Use Molding Paste

For super-short styles, a decent molding paste or wax can mean the difference between awesome hair and "meh" hair. A good molding paste can give your pixie edge. They also allow you to create texture and style if you have fine hair and add direction and control if you have unruly hair. In order to use it, just put a dime-sized amount on your palm, warm it up between your hands and palm it over your hair. Use your fingers to style your hair, creating the look you want.

7. Start at the Back of the Head, Not the Top

When most people apply a cream or mousse or even spray, the tendency is to start at the top of the head, but this is not correct, according to NYC stylist Eva Scrivo in her book Eva Scrivo on Beauty.

Applying product to the top of the head "can result in an oil slick in the front and not enough in the back," Scrivo notes.

Instead, take the product and warm it up in your hands and starting in the back of the head where hair is thickest, work the product through to the sides and on up to the top of the head. If you are spraying a product, lift a portion of the hair and spray and then get your hands into your hair and massage it on through.

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